Q&A with 3rd Congressional District candidates Ray Boland and Ron Kind

2012-10-28T00:00:00Z 2012-10-29T14:35:13Z Q&A with 3rd Congressional District candidates Ray Boland and Ron Kind La Crosse Tribune
October 28, 2012 12:00 am

Each candidate was sent the same 12 questions.

How do we get our economy growing at a faster pace?

Boland: Federal government needs to get out of the way of job creators in the private sector. We are overregulating and overtaxing our business community to the point they cannot afford to grow.

Kind: I am committed to growing the economy and doing everything I can to get western Wisconsin back to work. One of the most important things we can do is to stimulate our small businesses and family farms — they are the backbone of the economy and are creating two out of every three jobs right now. I will continue to invest in them to help our economy grow by encouraging small business lending programs to ease the risk associated with more challenging loans and by supporting other public-private programs that assist local banks and business support start-ups.

We must also concentrate on building the American manufacturing sector. Through research and development tax credits, lowering the effective tax rate for domestic manufacturers and expanded worker training programs, we can accelerate domestic manufacturing. By supporting technical training and retraining, we can improve manufacturing efficiencies and profitability, and help manufacturers develop marketing and sales skills to build capacity and grow demand.

We must continue to encourage students to go into fields that foster growth and innovation, including the STEM studies (science, technology, engineering and math) and will help America compete in a global economy. We need to support tax credits for businesses to help them continually develop, innovate and succeed. These are the jobs and businesses of the future and we must capitalize on America’s creativity and ingenuity.

We must invest in clean technologies and renewable energy facilities to create high-paying manufacturing jobs right now and help wean America from our addiction to foreign oil, ensuring our future economic success.

We must also preserve middle-class tax cuts. The last thing we need in the midst of a recession is to raise taxes on middle-class Americans. I support extending the tax cuts for all families making up to $250,000 a year.

What is your plan to reduce the budget deficit?

Kind: We have to develop a long-term strategy to get our spending under control and get America on a sustainable fiscal path. That means cutting unnecessary and bloated spending while making smart investments in areas that ensure our economy is built to last.

We have to go where the money is. That means reforming our health care system to get better value for the dollars we’re spending, the farm bill to end huge taxpayer subsidies that distort the market and don’t help family farmers, the tax code to close loopholes that benefit only the wealthy or most powerful corporations and scrubbing the defense budget to put an end to waste and outdated weapons programs.

Boland: We must eliminate the deficit before we can reduce the national debt. Most of the deficit can be reduced by eliminating wasteful spending. There is an estimated $750 billion wasted annually in health care.

Do you support increasing taxes? If yes, which specific taxes would you raise? If no, why not?

Boland: I support raising revenue, not raising taxes. We urgently need tax reform to eliminate loopholes. The current tax rates are high enough, but there are too many ways to avoid paying. We need a flat tax now.

Kind: I do not favor increasing taxes, especially on middle-class families and small businesses. That is why I support capping the 2001 and 2003 federal tax cuts at $250,000. We cannot afford to continue giving massive tax breaks to millionaires while at the same time asking our middle-class families and seniors to pay more. Not only is it not fair, it is not fiscally responsible.

I do support a targeted repeal of the estate tax for family-owned small businesses and family farms. However, it should not be a repeal that benefits the wealthiest individuals in our country — who typically have not paid any taxes on their appreciated assets — at the expense of other priorities such as taking care of our veterans, addressing the rising costs of health care and providing access to quality education.

Additionally, our current tax code is riddled with loopholes that benefit companies that ship jobs overseas. Comprehensive tax reform needs to be a priority so that we can work to create jobs here at home. By closing tax loopholes, we will save money that we can use to lower overall taxes; ensuring businesses have fair tax rates that help them compete in a global economy.

I will continue work with my Republican colleagues as we draw nearer to comprehensive tax reform. We must have a bipartisan conversation and make tough policy decisions on a bipartisan basis so that we can reform our complicated tax system into one that is streamlined, certain and pro-growth.

Do you support the Affordable Care Act? What do we need to do to achieve further health care reform?

Kind: Health care reform was long overdue; the status quo was not sustainable. The Affordable Care Act provides security and stability for families who like their health insurance, offers affordable choices for those who don’t and institutes real consumer protections.

Under health care reform, you can no longer be denied health care coverage because of “pre-existing” conditions, insurance companies can no longer be able to deny coverage when you get sick and young people are able to stay on their parent’s insurance until they are 26 years old. Seniors are benefiting from a strengthened Medicare program that includes more affordable prescription drugs with the closing of the unfair donut hole, better chronic care, free preventive care and more time with their primary care doctors.

Under health care reform, we will reduce our federal deficit by $143 billion over the next 10 years and $1.2 trillion by 2030.

The law isn’t perfect but it takes significant steps to get costs under control and provides important patient protections. We must find a way to continue working together to build on the important reforms made in the Affordable Care Act and continue implementing the law.

Boland: No, because it adds more spending that we cannot afford — 40 percent of current spending is borrowed. The Act adds to health care cost rather than lowering them. As a member of Congress representing the people of Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, it would be my goal to help write patient-centered health care without increasing the size and cost of government bureaucracy. Controlling cost, avoiding increased taxation and protecting the right of Americans to make decisions on their own health care are all factors to be addressed as we repeal Obamacare and rewrite legislation on this crucial issue.

Should other federal entitlement programs such as Social Security be changed? Please explain your answer. If yes, how would you change them?

Boland: I strongly support reform of Social Security and proposals made by Congressman Paul Ryan to do this. The purpose of Social Security should be redefined. A true retirement investment program should be established while safety net assistance is retained for the poor and disabled.

Kind: Social Security has provided the foundation for Americans’ retirement security for decades and should be preserved for generations to come. I am fully committed to protecting Social Security and addressing any challenges. I strongly oppose privatizing Social Security because it would rob money from the system that is needed to pay benefits for today’s seniors. We cannot leave the emergency retirement money of our nation to be subject to the ups and downs of the stock market. I also believe the Social Security Trust Fund surplus should be reserved for Social Security payments alone.

President Obama has said U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. What policy would you favor in Afghanistan?

Kind: We are doing everything we can to stabilize Afghanistan. We must ensure our troops’ safety and guarantee a clear exit strategy. I’m concerned with whether or not we have a legitimate partner in the corrupt Karzai government or if we’ll be able to fully train the Afghan army to fight corruption and control the country. I’m also concerned with Pakistan’s border and terrain, which easy hides terrorists. In the end, it is critical that Afghan Security Forces provide security for their people and that Afghanistan not provide sanctuary for Al Qaeda. The current administration has shown real progress on this effort.

Boland: I favor a long-term security assistance policy to help preserve an emerging free society and government.

What role should the U.S. play in the Middle East?

Boland: We should provide the leadership needed to promote long-term stability. We should build a regional alliance with full cooperation among our NATO allies to enable peace and growth as self-determination drives government of the people throughout the region.

Kind: I believe that the United States has a key role to play in promoting peace between Israel and Palestine. America has long been a stalwart ally of Israel and has regularly stood by Israel’s side in the face of anti-Semitic attacks that undermine Israel’s right to exist. The United States must bring both sides to the table and meaningfully work to resolve the remaining issues separating both sides and create a lasting peace.

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, it is important that the United States works to promote democracy and freedom in the region. For this reason, I voted for sanctions against Iran for not only their illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons but their blatant aggression towards Israel and the expansion of democracy in the region. As the political upheaval continues in Libya, Syria, and Iraq, I will continue to monitor the situation and support the progression towards democracy.

Do you support substantial changes in the federal farm bill and agricultural subsidies?

Kind: The farm bill must provide a working safety net for our small and medium-sized farmers, support environmentally responsible practices, promote healthy foods and uphold our international trade obligations to create new markets for our farmers. Most importantly, we must end the huge taxpayer subsidies going to very few large agribusinesses. They only distort the market and are not fair to our family farmers here at home.

Boland: Yes. The federal farm bill should be modernized and simplified. Food stamps should be separated. Subsidies should be reduced or eliminated.

What approach would you take on immigration reform?

Boland: Seal the border with Mexico and enforce current laws. I support entry with a work visa.

Kind: We must take a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. That starts as a sovereign nation doing a better job by securing our borders and enforcing our laws.

But we also need reform that provides a practical solution for the 12 million undocumented immigrants residing within our borders. I support legislation to provide otherwise law-abiding undocumented workers with permanent legal status through a new legalization program. Lastly, comprehensive immigration reform must take a look international students training at U.S. institutions. Instead of sending these highly skilled international students back to their native countries, where they contribute to the foreign economies we are competing against, we should provide them with visas and let the American economy take advantage of these skills.

How would you overcome the partisan gridlock? Describe a time when you worked in a bipartisan fashion.

Kind: Whether on the issues of health care, farm programs or small business initiatives, I’ve always believed in working with my colleagues across the aisle. In this gridlock, we’re going to have to put aside partisan games and come together, find the common ground that I know exists, and make the tough decisions to get our economy moving again. It’s not going to be easy, but it is necessary — the future of our country depends on it.

In my work as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I have worked on many bipartisan tax bills with my Republican colleague, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA). Together we have worked to strengthen S Corporations through the S Corporation ESOP Promotion and Expansion Act (HR 124) and the S Corporation Modernization Act (HR 1478). We also believe strongly in promoting and enhancing retirement savings through another bill we have worked on together, the SAVE Act (HR 1534), which modifies SIMPLE IRA and 401(k) plans and reduces administrative burdens on small businesses.

With my colleague Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA), I’ve introduced The Rural Microbusiness Investment Credit (HR 5990) to generate investment in both start-up and expanding rural microbusinesses by providing a 35 percent federal tax incentive to entrepreneurs who invest in their businesses. The bill will help bring new businesses and jobs to the rural communities. It is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation and Center for Rural Affairs.

As a former co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, the largest bipartisan caucus in Congress, I authored the Firearms Excise Tax Improvement Act, which was signed into law on Aug. 16, 2010, with my Republican colleague Paul Ryan. The bill simplifies the payment of taxes for firearm manufacturers while providing key conservation funding.

Boland: I served as an appointed secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs for nearly 12 years. I worked with members of both parties to build state programs that were the best in the country. My advocacy work for veterans in Washington was also with both parties.

What are voters in the 3rd Congressional District telling you they want to see happen in Washington?

Boland: They want new leadership to stop deficit spending and growing debt. They are saying it’s time to live within our means.

Kind: Voters want to see less gridlock, less partisanship and more things getting accomplished. America and western Wisconsin need policies that promote economic growth and help foster an environment for job creation. It is our job, as the representatives they elected, to work together to do what is best for the American people and the future of this country.

What are your main criticisms of your opponent?

Kind: I have been an effective and independent voice for the people of western Wisconsin. In fact, in a recent study, I was ranked the fifth-most independent voting member of Congress. And I think that shows that I’ve been trying to find solutions to the challenges we face, whether they are Democratic or Republican or Independent ideas. I’m also not afraid to stand up to political leadership if I think something doesn’t work for the people of western Wisconsin. That’s what the people expect from me and that’s what I’ve been delivering. I’m not going to rest until we get the economy creating the good-paying jobs Americans need right now.

Boland: I believe federal government growth in spending and borrowing is the biggest problem in our country. Mounting federal debt is a serious threat to our future. My opponent believes federal government is the solution. I have a sense of urgency to balance the federal budget and my opponent has not demonstrated urgency or leadership. After 16 years in office he has become a part of the “business as usual” Washington culture.

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